MARATHON MEETING ENDS IN ACRIMONY - TWIN LAKES, BUDGET DECISIONS POSTPONED
Author: STEVE SCOTT, Pioneer Press
Date: December 22, 2004

Roseville city officials had to feel hung over Tuesday morning, but it wasn't from holiday festivity. Monday's marathon City Council meeting was anything but a party.

A nearly six-hour meeting ended acrimoniously shortly before midnight with two of the biggest agenda items, including the city's 2005 budget, unresolved. The council scheduled a special meeting for Monday, a decision as fractious as the rest of the evening.

The council did approve a concept plan for an expansion to the Rosedale shopping mall, but it held over discussion on a controversial concept plan for the Twin Lakes redevelopment until January and didn't take up the adoption of next year's budget.

"Because of the way this meeting was structured, we were not able to adequately take up the issue of the city budget," said Council Member Amy Ihlan. As the hour approached midnight, she proposed convening a special meeting next week. That motion passed 3-2.

Earlier, she had sought removal of the Twin Lakes discussion from Monday's meeting, saying that citizens weren't expecting action on the concept plan until January. That motion was defeated.

"This is just a mess," she said as the meeting adjourned.

"This blows me away," said Council Member Greg Schroeder, who opposed the adjournment, adding, "Just zip it, Amy. I'm tired of listening to you all night."

Mayor Craig Klausing was visibly frustrated the meeting was halted.

"I did have some ambivalence about taking the budget up after 11:45 p.m.," Klausing said Tuesday. "My frustration was that we weren't able to get through our other items more efficiently."

Monday was to be the first consideration of the Twin Lakes land-use plan since a citizen group's environmental petition against the project was dismissed two weeks ago. But Ihlan, who with Council Member Tom Kough has opposed the project, strenuously objected to taking up the land-use plan "on such short notice."

The first phase of the proposed project in the 280-acre Twin Lakes redevelopment -- northeast of County Road C and Cleveland Avenue -- calls for 30 acres of residential use, 10 acres of office, 30 acres of retail and restaurants, and 10 acres of roads, ponds and public areas.

"Over the past year, we have engaged in countless numbers of meetings and had considerable discussion and debate about Twin Lakes," said J. Michael Noonan, representing the Rottlund Cos., the master developer.

Ihlan questioned city staff for nearly an hour about specifics of the Twin Lakes plan.

Besides its projected financing, the plan's opponents have focused on how the redevelopment would affect nearby Langton Lake and a surrounding park, and how hazardous chemicals will be disposed of in the ground beneath old truck terminals and warehouses.

"The purpose of this project was to create a more compatible use with the surrounding neighborhood, a goal set by this council in 1988," Roseville community development director Dennis Welsch said.

Council Member Dean Maschka suggested developers look for a way to relocate the proposed Twin Lakes Parkway farther from Langton Lake.

After considerable debate, Maschka moved to continue the Twin Lakes discussion until the council's Jan. 10 meeting, saying he wanted to hear public comment but it was inappropriate to begin that after 11 p.m. That apparently irritated Ihlan, whose earlier effort to postpone the matter until January had been overruled.

Maschka responded: "I read a statement today that you can argue with a woman two ways and both of them are wrong, and at this hour of the night I'm not going to get into that argument."

Earlier, the council approved a concept plan for the remodeling of the vacant Mervyn's store at Rosedale Center and a 132,000-square-foot addition for new shops and restaurants and a 14-screen theater.

Mall management will have to address several issues before the council grants final approval, including how the project would affect the Metro Transit hub at Rosedale, parking and traffic on County Road B2 along the mall's northern expanse.

Steve Scott may be reached at sscott@pioneerpress.com or 651-228-5526.

2004 St. Paul Pioneer Press and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.
http://www.twincities.com